The U.S. Department of Labor said Friday that the official unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September, the lowest reading since the summer of 2008. Employers added 248,000 jobs last month, combined with significant upward revisions in the July and August jobs numbers.

The official headline unemployment rate in September dipped below the 6 percent line for the first time since July 2008. The unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in August.

Not only did the job monthly job gains outpace analysts’ expectations – they were predicting around 225,000 new jobs – the revised jobs numbers from July and August were adjusted upward by a total of 69,000 total jobs over the two months.

For the full third quarter of 2014, monthly job gains averaged 223,667, down from the 266,667 monthly average in the second quarter. Q3’s monthly average was still the second highest since the first quarter of 2012 and the third highest since the beginning of the housing market crisis in the mid-2000s.


Job growth in September was broad, with nearly all sectors reporting some expansion. Professional and business services added 81,000 jobs in September, retail added 35,000 positions, healthcare gained 23,000, and construction jobs rose by 16,000.

Still, it wasn’t job growth alone that led to the drop in the unemployment rate. The labor participation rate fell slightly to 62.7 percent, the lowest reading since 1978. The total number of Americans not in the labor force stood at an all-time high in the month.

Wage growth also continued to be maddeningly slow, with average hourly wages actually contracting by a penny in September. Over the past year, average hourly earnings have risen by just 2.0 percent.

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